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The residents of Blackchin Boulevard have bitterly complained about an influx of skateboarders who invade their street because of topography of their neighborhood.  At Monday's Village of Lansing Trustees meeting the board discussed the purpose of purchasing a nearby parcel of what amounts to unusable land, agreeing that purchasing land to keep it "forever wild" is a laudable municipal goal.  But I had another idea.

Force the skateboarders to use the steep 270 foot rise instead of the roadway.  That would bring peace to the neighborhood, and presumably take care of the skateboarders -- it would only take one trip down that hill to stop them forever.  Win-win, right?  Thinking outside the box.

Or provide a more attractive venue in a spot that doesn't bother the neighbors.

That is something that the Town and Village of Lansing have been having trouble with, at least where innovations in zoning are concerned.  Each municipality recently rejected proposed projects that would have involved small cottages, in large part because of current density requirements that would prevent the cottages from being built close together.  That wasn't the only reason, but it was certainly a major sticking point as the two respective planning boards struggled to fit a square peg into a round hole.

If anything has been learned during the processes of formulating the recent updates to the two Lansings' comprehensive plans, it is that there are new innovations in zoning.  Now that the plan revision has been adopted the Town Planning Board in particular is working on a major zoning revision recommendation that may turn out to be more friendly toward small house communities that have been gaining in popularity across the country.  But zoning changes take a long time, and it may be a couple of years before this one is ready to roll out.

Meanwhile developers are interested in pursuing these new kinds of communities.  They see a market for them, but the zoning hasn't caught up.

This reminds me of anticipated technology innovations.  The tech journalists love to get us all excited about what our cell phones or computers or toasters will be able to do in the future, when, in fact, they can't do them now (and may never be able to do them).  But planning boards have a tool that does allow them to do special kinds of developments now if the board members think it's a good idea for the community.  It's called a 'Planned Development Area (PDA), which is essentially a special land use zone assigned to a single project.

So for planning boards it's a matter of how far out of the box they want to think.  Are these small, tightly packed communities of benefit to our municipalities?  If the places proposed for the two that were not approved are not the right places, then where are the right places?

And is there a better way to get rid of annoying skateboarders?

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